LUBBOCK, Texas – The Texas Tech soccer team began Big 12 action with a bang, securing a 3-1 victory over Kansas State on Friday night at the John Walker Soccer Complex.
The Red Raiders (8-2-0, 1-0-0) improved their win streak to three-straight thanks to the victory over the Wildcats (5-4-1, 0-1-0). It was the first win for Tech in a conference opener since 2013, when the Red Raiders picked up a 2-1 victory at Iowa State. Friday's contest was also the first Big 12 match for K-State.
"The race is on now," head coach Tom Stone said. "Now you play for points. In non-conference, you're playing for RPI, rankings, confidence and to get ready for the Big 12. Once you get into Big 12 play, you have the added bonus of getting three points or zero and we're happy to be getting three today."
For the second-straight match, three different Red Raiders found the back of the net. Sophomore midfielder Jordie Harr (14') kicked off the scoring in the first half, while freshmen forwards Ally Griffin (62') and Kirsten Davis (81') rattled off goals in the second frame to help put away the Wildcats. K-State would find a late marker from Ashley Zane in the 86th minute to keep Tech from its seventh shutout of the season.
However, with the win, the Red Raiders improved to 4-0-0 inside the confines of the John Walker Soccer Complex in 2017. Over that stretch, Tech has outscored their opponents, 11-1. It was the 69th overall win at The Walker in program history.
"I think we were pretty jazzed to play our first Big 12 match," Stone said. "A lot of young players wanted to get their first Big 12 minutes, but I think we hit a bit of a wall in the first half. The goal was great, but I thought a lot of our better players were playing a little bit off their edge.
"We chatted at halftime about it, talked about what it would take now that we're going against the wind. We knew it was going to be tough, but we came out and played great. In the second half, we moved the ball, kept it, fought for every loose ball and just did the things that you have to do to be in every game. Once we did, it started to turn the tide for us. At that point, I felt like the goals were coming and they did."
The Red Raiders struck first in Friday's contest for the seventh time this season. Junior midfielder Gwennie Puente sent a pass back from the right corner of the box to junior midfielder Carly Wickenheiser, who found Harr near the top of the lane. Almost immediately after controlling the pass, Harr rifled a shot past the diving KSU keeper and into the net for her first goal of the year.
With the tally, Harr became the eighth Red Raider to record a goal this season.
Tech took a 1-0 lead into the break with an impressive 14 shots, including six on goal, while holding the Wildcats to just two during the period. The Red Raiders mirrored it in the second frame with 14 more for a 28-shot performance, racking up 14 on net, while K-State had just five shots total and two on goal.
It was the second-most shots in a match for the Red Raiders this season, putting up 30 against San Francisco on Aug. 20 in Albuquerque.
A little over 15 minutes into the second half, Tech pushed its lead to 2-0 thanks to Griffin's fifth marker of the year. A pass from Davis to Harr at the left corner of the box allowed her the opportunity to slide down the left wing and send a perfect cross to Griffin, who was ready in front to bury the volley for the goal.
The score extended her team-lead in goals over Davis by two, but by night's end, the edge would be back down to one thanks to Davis' 81' tally. Sophomore forward Jade King found Davis in the right corner of the box, then she made a move to get into space and away from her defender and sent a rocket off the fingertips of the keeper and into the net for the 3-0 lead.
K-State would find its first conference goal in program history in the 86th minute to make it a 3-1 score. Katie Cramer sent a ball to the six-yard line from the right corner and forward Hannah Davis pushed her defender away and sent it into the top-left part of the net for the goal.
"The fans are always great," Stone said. "They make this place happen. Sunday is always a challenge, but people in Lubbock generally come out and watch us because we have a good bond with a solid thousand people, then it just spikes up from there.
"Kansas is a tough out. They really took a big step forward last year. I thought they were one of the best teams I saw all year. I know they lost tonight but I don't think that has any bearing on the match Sunday. They're really good and we have to be ready."
The Red Raiders return to action on Sunday, Sept. 24, and wrap their four-match home stand against Kansas (5-5-1, 0-1-0) at 1 p.m. at the John Walker Soccer Complex.